Pardih Kali Mandir on NH-33 in Fadlugora on Saturday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, Aug. 31: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has come up with an alternative plan for a contentious road widening project on a stretch of NH-33 to spare a temple near Fadlugora, around 13km from the steel city.
The move has finally laid to rest all apprehensions that the Rs 1,479 crore project might lead to the demolition of the 85-year-old Pardih Kali Mandir.
Today, Chandil sub-divisional-officer (SDO) Navin Kumar submitted the alternative road plan, jointly prepared by NHAI and Hyderabad-based concessionaire Madhucon Project Limited, to temple priest Mahant Vidyanand Saraswati.
According to the new plan, the highway will be diverted through Dalma Hills, to bypass the temple considered sacred by naga sadhus. After crossing the temple, the NH-33 will take an elevated route to avoid city traffic.
Madhucon’s senior project manager Uday Kumar said, “We have received the mandatory clearance from the Union environment and forest ministry for taking the diverted route on the left side of the temple. It will pass through three acres of forestland, cutting across hills. Construction will commence after monsoon.”
The elevated corridor would cover over 3km between Citi Inn Hotel and Baliguma. Once ready, the four-lane highway would be 45 meter wide.
In view of the administration’s positive gesture, local residents, too, have decided to give up their plan for a prolonged agitation.
“We have dropped all agitation plans after the SDO came up with the alternative plan. We are happy that the authorities honoured our demands and paid heed to religious sentiments of thousands of people,” said the mahant, who is also the national secretary of Uttar Pradesh- based Juna Akhara.
The protests began after July 24 when a team from Madhucon carried out measurements and wrote the words “2.8M IN” on one of the walls of the temple, leading to fears that 2.8 metre from the temple premises would be used for widening the road.
On August 2, members of the temple management committee and around 1,000 residents from 25 villages of Chandil gathered near the temple and drove away Madhucon’s employees.
The protesters withdrew the roadblock only after the SDO assured them that a fresh plan was being prepared and the temple would not be disturbed. The temple priest had then demanded that he be shown the new drawings so that he was convinced that the temple would be spared. The SDO did that today.